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New whistle-blower law will protect more federal workers

Last week, President Barack Obama signed an important bill that gives more protections to federal employees, including federal security agency employees. The White House reported on Nov. 27 that President Obama signed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012.

The new law affects millions of federal workers. But some believe more needs to be done to make sure federal workers are adequately protected by whistle-blower laws when it comes to exposing and reporting unethical and illegal conduct in the workplace.

The executive director of the National Whistleblowers Center acknowledges that the new law will protect more federal employees who report misconduct and unethical activity within government agencies. However, the executive director also points out federal workers still have fewer employee protections when it comes to whistle-blower cases compared to those who work in the private sector.

A "whistleblower" is an employee who reports illegal conduct or other wrongdoings committed by employers or supervisors at work. An employee may choose to report misconduct after being asked to do something illegal by an employer or after suspecting unethical conduct in the workplace. Although reporting illegal activity may be the right thing to do, many employees are retaliated against or harassed for doing so. Some workers have even lost their jobs for reporting employers' wrongdoings.

The new law should protect more federal employees from having to face retaliation or harassment in the workplace when reporting unethical or illegal conduct under certain circumstances. The new law also increases penalties for violating the rights of federal employees who report misconduct.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Obama signs whistleblower protection bill into law," Samuel Rubenfeld, Nov. 27, 2012

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